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Federal government must march towards implementation of national pharmacare

March 6, 2019 - 12:00 AM

March 6, 2019

TORONTO – Following the release of an interim report, Unifor affirms that a new federal drug agency and limited list of prescription medications alone will not ensure universal access to pharmacare. 

“Canadians need transformative change to address the critical issues of an ageing population, and to guarantee the access, value, safety and above all the public ownership of health services,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “The majority of these evolving issues can be addressed through a universal pharmacare plan.”

The Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, led by Dr. Eric Hoskins announced plans to create a new drug agency and a master list of prescription medications that would be available to all, regardless of ability to pay, in the federal advisory council interim report.

The interim report recommends Canada create a national drug agency, develop a comprehensive, evidence-based national formulary and invest in drug data and information technology systems as essential building blocks for any national pharmacare program.

“Canadians have made it clear a successful and effective national pharmacare program must be a single-payer system. We believe that healthcare is a right,” continued Dias. “The latest polls show 91 per cent of Canadians want a national drug plan and though the interim report recognizes some of these principles, it falls short of ensuring that all people have access to public pharmacare without cost.”

The advisory council conducted cross-country consultations over the past year. Unifor members attended many of the round tables, made submissions and participated in the online questionnaire. According to the report “the Council heard loud and clear that the current system of drug coverage in Canada is neither adequate nor sustainable over the long-term and leaves too many Canadians behind.”

Unifor has been on the front lines urging the federal, provincial and territorial governments to take immediate action in instituting a national, universally-accessible pharmacare program. The union raised the issues of affordability and accessibility of prescription drugs to Federal Members of Parliament and senators last May during Unifor’s lobby week and most recently, Unifor members joined the Canadian Health Coalition to meet with Members of Parliament to discuss what a national pharmacare program would look like. The union has worked with both employers and municipalities to sign a joint letter in support of a Canadian universal pharmacare program.

About National Pharmacare

Canada is the only developed nation in the world with a universal health care program that does not include a universal prescription drug plan. Instead, Canada has a patchwork of providers, resulting in the second highest drug costs globally, right behind the United States.

The result has been a haphazard prescription coverage system that is inefficient and expensive, with Canadians paying wildly different rates and receiving grossly inconsistent coverage. As many as 8.4 million Canadians have no prescription drug coverage at all, disproportionately affecting women and young workers.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications National Representative Hamid Osman at or 647-448-2823 (cell).